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 Justine's Journal

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Tuesday, December 14, 2004

The first continous all-female cercomnavigation of Tasmania by sea kayak -

Monday, December 13, 2004

Day 37 - WE DID IT!!!!!! Hurrah, we have completed our circumnavigation of Tasmania - the first continous circumnavigation by any women, and I think we're now in a group of 10 or less people who have done so. Well done us, (am i allowed a bit of gloating, just for today!?) The way we did it was about 1350km over 37 days (our 36 if you consider we left at 4.45pm on the first day and arrived at 1.30pm on the last day). We had 5 days where we didn't paddle (including 1 day in Bridport where we did actually paddle but ended up back where we started).

For the first time in over a week we even had the wind behind us and we made good time up the last section of the East coast this morning. In fact we were even too early having told Matt and one of the Tasmanian TV people that we'd be there about 3pm! This stretch of coastline is stunning with very high cliffs made of dolerite lava colums. There are loads of stacks, caves and arches. We paddled through a narrow gap besides the Totem Pole, a famous tall thin tower which is sometimes climbed. That which was pretty exciting and moving, especially knowing some of the history of it.

We stopped ourselves surfing the waves towards the end and slowed down a bit so we weren't too early and arrived at our new agreed time of 1.30pm. I did mention to Trys and Gemma that if we continued in these weather conditions that we'd make really good mileage today, but they pretended not to hear me. Matt and Jeff were at the end to meet us with smiling faces and chilled champagne. Jeff even bought some plastic champagne flutes so we could drink it with style (in our 5 week old thermals and straggly hair!) It went staight to our heads, especially as we stopped just outside Pirates Bay (our finishpoint) to finish off the last of Dave's homebrew whiskey that he gave us in Bridport (much appreciated Dave, thanks).

Southern Cross TV filmed us and we watched the report go out on the news this evening. Now we are showered and looking forward to a nice meal that isn't cooked on a sandy stove and some more celebratory drinks. Thanks again to everyone who supported us on the trip, everyone who said hello or wished us well. We've had a fantastic trip and got great memories. I personally feel very proud of us all and have a warm glow inside knowing what we've just done (and no, it's not just from the champagne). x

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Day 36 - 12 December 2004, (mw) Today they made the 40km open water crossing of Storm Bay (between Adventure Bay and Cape Raoul. They then continued to the first landing opportunity at Crescent Bay and landed there - 50km from the day's start point. They are now 37km from the finish at Pirates Bay, Eaglehawk Neck.

They are hoping to arrive there at 3pm. For any keen observers, they may be able to see them as they travel north past Cape Hauy at roughly 11am - midday (13 Dec) or near the Waterfall Bay lookout at 2pm.

They will be landing at the boat ramp at the southern end of Pirates Bay when they finish.

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Day 35, 11 December 2004; (NB extra update from Trys 11/12/04 845pm Australian time at bottom) (mw) Today they travelled about 42km from the s/w corner of Bruny Island - along the exposed south and s/e sections of sea cliffs. They are now in Adventure Bay - ready for the 50km crossing of Storm Bay tomorrow to Safety Cove near the former convict settlement of Port Arthur or Crescent Bay (next to Safety Cove).

It is possible for them to actually finish tomorrow at Pirates Bay as it is about 90km away - if they paddle from point to point. However it is more likely that they will take 2 more days.

It sounds like they are enjoying themselves at the moment. They have had showers and they are currently eating oysters.

Hi Trys here, not only enjoying oysters, but also throuoghly enjoying Bligh's apple crumble at the Penguin Cafe on Bruny (, its fantastic and I can highly recommend it. Its so nice not to eat sand with our meal - pure bliss! Its been a hard few days inching our way against constant headwinds. I guess we all thought the hard bit was over when we rounded the South West cape and that we were on the home straight, but here we still are. Its actually quite nice really, the wind has slowed us down and forced us to stay in close to the land and land early, giving us more time to explore, relax and enjoy Tasmania. The South coast has been wonderful, its absolutely stunning and is truely remote. Thankfully we are ahead of schedule (due to Justine slave driving us early on) and so can feel relaxed enough to enjoy and savour the slower pace (OK Just you were right to push). We have one more day of headwinds ahead of us tomorrow, apparently easing throughout the day, then at last tail winds for our last day. Fingers crossed we should be back at Eagle Hawk Neck in 2 days.

Friday, December 10, 2004

Day 34 - 10 December 2004; (mw) They had a relaxed start to the day at 9am from Cockle Creek and crossed a fairly exposed section of water to the south-west corner of Bruny Island and stopped at Lighthouse Bay - about 30km for the day.

They intend to continue around the s/e corner of Bruny Island tomorrow (Sat 11 Dec) and then cross Storm Bay to Tasman Peninsula on Sunday 12 Dec, and possible finish on Monday 13 Dec.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Day 33 - 9 December 2004; (mw) Leaving Surprise Bay they headed out through surf before reaching the calmer water. Trys launched her kayak into orbit off the top of a wave, as she headed out through the surf. For the rest of the day there were light easterly winds. They reached Cockle Creek by mid afternoon.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Day 32 - 8 December 2004; (mw) Even though the are still strong s/e head winds present they managed to travel 33km to land at Surprise Bay. This isn't normally a sheltered bay where sea kayaks land - but with easterly wind for the last few days it would be more sheltered here than normal. It is however a beautiful bay with a great camp site on a hill overlooking the bay and a fresh water creek flowing out here.

They had a lunch break on the way to Surprise Bay - at Deadmans Cove - where there is a nice freshwater creek that flows out to a rocky cove with large smooth round rocks. They met John Wild (fellow sea kayaker) here. I don't know if he was there paddling or bushwalking. He was one of the founding members of Tasmania's Maatsuyker Canoe Club.

Possible finish point tomorrow - South Cape Rivulet (16km) or Cockle Creek (38km).

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Day 31 - 7 December 2004; (mw) There was a strong s/e wind present today and they are still at Anchorage Cove, Louisa Bay. They plan to have an early start tomorrow. South-east winds are still forecast for the next few days.

Monday, December 06, 2004

Day 30 - 6 December 2004; (m.w) The message from Justine was that they left Port Davey after an early start and headed towards South-West Cape. They had a "fantastic day" with very little wind. There was "moody mist" present as they rounded the cape which would have looked really eerie. The saw albatrosses soaring around them, dolphins, petrels - all at close quarters. They landed at Anchorage Cove which is a sheltered bay at the western side of the larger Louisa Bay. It has a great view of the Ironbounds Range which is the most challenging point on the walk along the popluar south coast track.

They even finished early enough for a relaxing swim at the end of the day. The days distance was about 55km.

For some photos of the south coast - including photos of South-West Cape...

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Day 29 - 5 December 2004; (mw) Today they had a late start and travelled 25km as they took a bit more time to enjoy the scenery between Alfild Bight down to Norman Cove which is just inside Port Davey - on the southern shoreline. They had a moderate s/e headwind during the day to slow the progress further. This wind direction looks like it will be around for the next few days. This could slow their progress to about 40km a day

They will have an early start tomorrow to head towards the most distinctive landmark of the trip - South-West Cape. This is the s/w corner of Tasmania. It is the end of the west coast for them and is the most exposed point in the trip. The huge waves of the Southern Ocean are blown towards Tasmania from the south-west and they as they get to 10km from the cape the waves go from depths of over 1000m deep to 27m deep around the cape. It is a scary place in bad weather but the sea conditions are quite low at the moment due to light s/e winds.

For some of Justine's photos from the first 3 weeks of their trip

Saturday, December 04, 2004

Day 28 - 4 December 2004; (mw update) They had a slight sleep-in this morning after a good day yesterday and because they the forecast was for tail winds as well. They slept until 8am and started paddling at 10.30am and then explored the coastline. This is a treat for them as they normally paddle directly from point to point.

They ended up at Alfild Bight which is 51km from their start point at 'The Shank'. They have said that with reasonable conditions forecast tomorrow they may head for s/w Cape - the bottom of the west coast.

A check of the coastal weather observations at 4pm revealed that there is currently a 13 knot n/w wind - which is a direct tail-wind for them. There is also a s/w 'ground swell' of less than 2 metres - which is about as low as it is ever going to get in s/w Tasmania. However there would be a wind swell behind them. If that sounds confusing there is usually always a big s/w swell rolling towards Tasmania. Besides that there is a smaller swell that is just caused by the wind at that immediate time (which is currently from a n/w direction). The wind swells can really slow your progress but the 'ground swell' doesn't cause much problem as it has a big wave length and doesn't break until it gets really big or reaches the shallow water.

Friday, December 03, 2004

Day 27 - December 3, 2004; (m.w update) They have had another very successful day and have made it to Diorite Point, aka The Shank. They have paddled 60km today. There wasn't a lot of detail in their message but when I checked the wind direction and speed at the remote weather station that is near them - there was a light s/w wind present. So I believe that they might have had moderate s/w to southerly winds to start and they have reduced to light southerly winds during the late afternoon.

To land at 'The Shank' they had to dodge their way between reefs with large waves looming up behind them and breaking to their sides. As you get closer to the shore here the sea becomes calmer as you reach the sheltered water behind the reefs. There is a sheltered cove with a steep beach here and a camp used by commercial fishermen that is next to a creek.

As far as the weather goes - The maximum swell heights have halved overnight from 8 metres down to 4 metres as the winds have calmed from the strong winds of the last few days. The winds are forecast to turn around to the north or n/e during the night so the options are

35km to Mulcahy Bay (probably too short - might be a lunch stop here)
50km to Alfild Bight (could be ok if swells continue to drop)
72km to Spain Bay in Port Davey. This is possible with an early start, tail-winds and a big effort.

I have a feeling they may make it to Spain Bay because once they reach Mulcahy Bay it will still be too early to stop for the day and once they leave there the coastline is very rugged and not at all welcoming.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Day 26 - 2nd December 2004. (m.w update) This morning the alarms sounded at 5am and within a few minutes the flat at the Strahan Police Station was alive (and full of the smoke from burning toast). After everyone fuelled themselves up we headed back out to the kayaks at 'Hells Gates' which is the name for the entrance to Macquarie Harbour - because it is so treacherous due to strong currents and shallow sand bars on both sides. The entrance is surrounded by surf (scary for boats but fun for kayaks).

During the past 2 days food supplies were stocked up again (2 weeks worth) and everyone mentally prepared themselves for the most exposed section of the trip.

The reason this section is the most challenging - but also the most interesting is that there are no roads or towns along the next approx 500km and it is in unspoiled condition because it is also a national park.

Two years ago our local club did a trip over 4 weeks down this coast. It can be done in 1-2 weeks but we wanted to explore thoroughly. The following link is the information I typed up before that trip. It has some details about landing points and some closer maps of these landing points that the girls may use.

ANYWAY - back to the action. The message that I received at 7pm today was that they had reached the mouth of Birthday Creek which is 42km away from their start point inside the mouth of Macquarie Harbour. They initially battled into 40km/h s/w winds and rough seas. The 'waverider' buoy which is located close by recorded swells of 8 metres at midday today. The also saw a pod of dolphins today and an curious albatross that soared effortlessly around them for a while.

The forecast will be improving a bit tomorrow and the may have tail-winds on Saturday and Sunday. Tomorrow they may reach a sheltered area favoured by local fishing boats known as 'The Shank'. This area is 60km to the south. There is also a spot at the Mainwaring River mouth which is 50km from their start but this has some reefs surrounding the entry point and it harder to locate the entry to the cove because the coastline there is low and doesn't have many distinctive features.

They could realistically be in the shelter of Port Davey by Sunday.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Day 25 - We're still in Strahan. We got up at 5.55am to listen to the forecast but the radio told us there would be winds up to Force 7 (30 knots) from the South West which would be pushing us into the rocky shore and be a slight headwind. The swell forecast was 2-3 metre waves from the South West which wouldn't help. Once we leave Strahan we are committed to paddle at least 25 km to the next good landing spot so we decided not to attempt that in the forecast. Actually it didn't seem quite as windy as forecast (but it was 23knots). The forecast for tomorrow starts off with quite strong winds from the SW but they are easing as lot during the day and a high pressure should be over Tasmania by Friday, staying for a few days, so we are heading off early tomorrow morning and hope to make it 54km to Point Hibbs which has a sheltered beach that we can land on. Fingers crossed for a few good days of weather and we should make good progress.

I'd just like to say thanks very much to everyone who has helped us on this trip, from the lovely people who we have met on beaches, on fishing boats, and in the places that we've stopped to sponsors back home. Everyone has been really kind, generous and friendly. For example, we're staying in a flat at the Strahan police station at the moment. It's great to be able to cook a meal, have showers, listen to the radio and chill out. Plus of course, sleeping in a real bed. A big thanks goes to Matt, who has been great, giving us advice on where to land and what to look out for as well as meeting up with us at different places and driving us around shops and sights. Thanks to the North Face, Lendal, NDK, Reed & Snapdragon for great kit which is standing up to our abuse. And thanks to friends, family and lovers back home who are putting up with us having this great adventure on the other side of the world - special thanks to Alun and Simon - we love you lots. Right, time for bed, ready for an early start tomorrow. Wish us luck.

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Day 23&24 - Hello from Strahan. It's Justine again, writing this from, believe it or not, the local police station. No, I'm not behind bars (not yet anyway) but the local constable Gerry King is letting us have showers, hot drinks and write our updates. Matt met up with us again last night, he took one whiff and he has brought us here for showers (he's a policeman so he has connections).

Yesterday we paddled 50km to Strahan, making it our 8th day of paddling over 50km out of the last 9 days. We are back on schedule and are all very tired. We've been on the water for between 9 and 12 hours each of those days. We've stopped getting up so early because we need our sleep but were still on the water by 8am most days. Today it's a bit windy but not too bad, we could have paddled onwards but we've chosen to have a rest day because we want to be fresh and focused for the rest of the south coast.

We've been incredibly lucky with the weather on the West coast so far. One day was mirror calm and a fisherman that we met said "The West coast is NEVER like this. This is the best day EVER". But yesterday we encoutered the swell that the South and West coasts of Tasmania are famous for. Overnight it increased from about 2 metres to 4-6 metres - all from the South West. It was quite exciting launching from Granville Harbour as we could see the odd big set arrive and close out in a line of powerful whitewater across the bay. We put our helmets on and hoped for good timing or good luck. We got it right and managed to get out without getting wet, although our kayaks crested up over some very tall waves before crashing back down again on the other side.

For the first few hours we were quite close to cliffs and the clappotis went on for ever. Even 400-500metres out to sea, the sea was a constant jaggling bouncing, confused mess. I normally enjoy clappotis but this was more like a rollercoaster ride that went on a bit too long. Trys and I even felt a bit sea sick (the first time for either of us in a sea kayak).

Later on the wind picked up from the North West and it was really interesting paddling with a big rolling swell from the SW and wind from a different direction. The odd wave from the South West would rise really tall and powerful and look like the whole face was going to crash down on top of us but it never did. The top would sometimes break with a brief crack of the whip and we all got the odd wave down our necks every now and again. We could still surf the odd wind wave from the NW and made quite good progress. We finally arrived in the harbour entrance by Strahan about 6pm and were met by Matt who kindly drove us 12km into town for a good meal. We knew we were having a day off the next day so it was party time. Well, it should have been, but we were all a bit too tired to dance on the tables. We had a bit of wine and beer with local fish for dinner, but were in bed by 10.30pm! Today, we're enjoying the first day where we are definately NOT getting in a kayak for over 2 weeks.

We are about half way down the south coast but from here on it gets more remote. The whole of the SW corner of Tasmania is uninhabited and is the most exposed part of the island for weather. We are unlikely to see many people for the next 300 - 350 km, which will take us 1-2 weeks, depending on the weather. We will probably see fishermen and maybe the odd bushwalker. There is no mobile phone reception from now on but Matt has kindly lent us his sat phone which we can use in emergencies, and we have an EPIRB so don't you worry about us! We'll text Matt every day with brief details of where we are so he'll still update this for us.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Day 22 - 28/11/04 (mw) just a quick update because I don't have many details. Today they left Native Well Bay on the southern side of Sandy Cape and travelled south towards Conical Rocks Harbour (just a sheltered cove behind some big rocks sticking up out of the ocean). They had a lunch stop at this location and then continued to Granville Harbour in the afternoon. I believe that they had n/w following winds most of the day.

Granville Harbour is a small rocky bay with no beaches in it. There is just a small gap in the rocks where the locals have moved the big boulders aside. To get ashore you have to pull the kayaks over the smaller rocks. I have a photo of the landing point at the following link - about half-way down the page.

My calculation of the days paddle was about 60-65km. Tomorrow they plan to paddle the 50km approx to the opening into Macquarie Harbour and then go to Strahan to re-supply again before the remote s/w area.

Saturday, November 27, 2004

Day 21 - 27 November 2004; (m.w. update) Even though they wouldn't get mobile phone coverage from the land Justine has been able to send a message from out at sea. Today they were out off Sandy Cape and were planning to stop on the southern side of Sandy Cape at Native Well Bay. This is approximately 51km from yesterdays stop at Bluff Hill Pt. They have had a good day in favourable conditions and are very happy with their progress. They are back on track now with the schedule. To make the day even more perfect, they were greeted by some lads from Devonport; Blue, Tod, Miffa, Toby and Gary, who were on holiday fishing and treated the team to beer and fried Abalone.

From the weather forecasts I think they will reach Strahan (half-way down west coast) on Monday afternoon at the earliest but more likely Tuesday or Wednesday.

Friday, November 26, 2004

hi it's Justine again. You find the internet in the most unexpected places these days! I am in the house of Rosemarie and Les in Bluff Hill Point, which is a small settlement about 55km down the West coast. Lots of abalone and crayfish fishermen launch from here and there are a few holiday shacks here but only 2 fisherman live here permanantly. Rosemarie is being incredibly kind to us and has let us have showers, a hot drink and rinse our salty sandy kit in fresh water. we're all starting to get sores under our armpits from wearing the same yukky kit day in and out so hopefully freshwater on our bodies and clothes will help.

The wind picked up in the night and by the time we got up it was coming from the North East at about 25 knots (force 6). The swell is about 2 metres from the South West (with the odd big sets which appear from nowhere). That's pretty small for the West coast but the sea was still full of noisy whitecaps. We left our sheltered campsite and headed NorthEast down the coast for about 15km. The coastline then started to trend SE - NW so if we'd continued then the wind would have been pushing us out to sea. We reluctantly decided to play it safe and land where we could as otherwise we'd have been committed to another 15km or so across a big bay in a Force 6 offshore wind! So here we are in a lovely spot at Bluffhill Point. It's windy but it's sunny. It finally feels like summer and we're in shorts and t-shirts. Even the cheese is melting.

We've been chatting to a few abalone and crayfish fishermen which was interesting and just relaxing and drying things out. We're all pretty tired from 4 long days so it's a bit of a relief to have an afternoon off the water. I just hope the weather is kinder to us tomorrow. It's due to turn south westerly soon which will be very inconvenient. on the positive side 2 albatroses circled us for about an hour this morning. they are amazing birds, coming really close and blatantly staring at us, then gracefully banking away. it must be nearly tea time..... see ya

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Day 19 m.w. update - part 2; This morning they had to struggle to pull the boats for 2 hours over sand bars before they could reach the water - as the water they had landed in had now retreated.

Last night they weren't able to make it to their intended location of Stony Point which is on the edge of the deeper channel. They strayed into the shallow area as it neared dusk and had to back-track to Shipwreck Point instead.

So this morning after dragging the kayaks for 2 hours to reach the deeper channel again they were running late to paddle through the shallow section ahead of them that they needed to reach precisely at high tide. This spot is at the western end of Robbins Passage where you can pass to the south of Kangaroo Island and save about 5km and also stay in water that is sheltered from the wind.

They paddled as hard as they could to try and make up time to reach Kangaroo Island before the water disappeared and just got through as the water drained away (like pulling the plug out of the bath).

Across this shallow area they saw large rays with a huge 'wingspan' that flap a couple of times when disturbed and disappear quickly. This shallow, protected area is home for hundreds of black swans as well. This was the main diet for the early European explorers of the Tasmanian coastline (there were already many Tasmanian Aboriginal tribes living up the west coast and especially in this area as it was plentiful in sea food and native wildlife).

On 12 December 1815, James Kelly and 3 other men sailed and rowed an open whale boat around Tasmania in a clockwise direction - from Hobart. Black Swans were the main component of their diet. It was this party that named many of the bays and rivers up the west coast of Tasmania.

Back to the current expedition - they also saw some dolphins today in the deeper water. It is great seeing dolphins when you are paddling because no matter how tired & sore you feel it always lifts your spirits.

The first 30km were over sand flats with depths of less than 2 metres. They then reached the n/w corner of Tasmania - Woolnorth Point. The point doesn't look spectacular from a distance but it is surrounded by sharp, jagged rocks and 5 knot tidal flows with large, steep waves. The sea bottom has some deeper channels and shallow reefs which combine to cause treacherous tidal conditions (probably not as good as the Gemma's favourite tidal race that is at her door-step).

They then continued for a further 20km down the west coast. They have now commenced the section that they were most wary of. The west coast is the most isolated and most exposed to bad weather and strong winds. However today was pretty good and tomorrow is supposed to be n/w winds which are almost perfect. They will probably try to paddle at least another 60km. The possible destinations could be Temma Harbour at 55km or Sandy Cape at 75km. Saturday is also forecast to have n/w wind.
Day 19 - November 25, 2004; (m.w. update) After paddling with the girls for the last 3 days I found that they are paddling strongly and are very determined to achieve their goal.

While it is always hard to get out of a warm sleeping bag when it is dark and cold outside, they frequently get up at 4am to cook some porridge and have a hot drink before carefully packing their kayaks to fill every available space and start paddling before 5.30am.

The beaches on the north coast of Tasmania have a 3 metre tidal range (1 metre only for the rest of Tasmania) so it often requires a huge effort to get the kayaks from the water's edge to safety above the high water mark. In the mornings they usually pull the kayaks down closer to the water before packing everything to make this task a bit easier.

While receiving the recent media coverage was some recognition of their achievement so far it has also brought many former U.K. residents in touch with the girls. As they ready themselves to start paddling each morning their have had many well-wishers wanting to talk to them.

They have met a lot of friendly and helpful local residents who have congratulated them on the trip so far and wish them well for the west coast.

The wind during the last 3 days has been a lot more favourable and they have really taken advantage of this. Hopefully by the end of today (25/11/04) they will have reached Woolnorth Point at the north-west tip of Tasmania.

Their bodies are becoming more used to paddling all day and covering distances over 60km.

Todays big challenge is timing the trip through the shallow Robbins Passage at high tide. If you get there too late you could be faced with pulling the kayaks across 5 km of sand bars to reach the water.

Today may be the last mobile phone coverage that we get for a few days until they get closer to Strahan (half-way down the west coast). Even if we don't hear from them every day, the weather observations should give us some clue how far they will be able to paddle.
Day 18 - 24 November

After another good day's paddling the team are only about 30km short of the North West corner of the island and pretty much back on schedule. The weather is also set fair for the next few days so this progress should continue.

The location of the overnight camp meant that the team landed in the dark. By morning and with the tide gone out, they had to move the laden boats about 500m to the waters edge. This may be recuring problem during the next section of the journey before turning South as the are several areas of sandbanks to come.

The west Coast of Tasmania is far more remote than the East and North and therefore it may be a few days before there is any news on the groups progress. They are hoping to be able to relay messages via fishermen along the way, but this may prove somewhat hit and miss.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Day 17 - 23rd November

another 54kms covered today but in less time and with better conditions, all in all a more relaxing day, well relatively.

The team is now at Boat Harbour Beach and instead of the frustration of cooking on temperamental cookers, and putting the tent up again, the girls were invited to dine, shower and the luxury of beds, by Jeff 'Jake' Jacobs a local who had seen the them on Australian TV and on the front page of the local newspaper.

Having made good time across the Tasmanian North Coast, despite the earlier windy conditions, the girls are now just 2 days from the major milestone of the North Western corner of the island and are only a little behind schedule, but given continuing fair conditions, they hope to catch this up in the next few days.

Monday, November 22, 2004

End of day 16 - 22 of November

After an arduous 14 hour day, which entailed starting at 5.30am and finishing at 7.30pm, the team completed 55 kms, with the wind only dropping for the last 2 hours.

On completion of this mammoth day the team were intervied by the Tasmania media giving the expedition both tv and newspaper coverage.

The paddlers are now in Ulverstone on the North Coast and have completed 500km. Lets hope the drop in wind is an indicator of better weather to come.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

End of day 15, November 21, 2004: (m.w update) After leaving Stony Head they battled the wind for 32km. They passed a landmark location of the mouth of the Tamar River and the small town of Low Head at its mouth. The Tamar River gets strong tidal flows at it's mouth and has a lot of rocky reefs in the river. The Australian Maritime College is located nearby with an extremely advanced ship simulator.

They crossed the mouth of this river and stopped after 32km at West Head. Tomorrow they will be very close to the large town (small city) of Devonport which is the centre of the north coast. I hope to meet up with them tomorrow afternoon to deliver their extra repair kit and to paddle with them for a couple of days. I won't be near a computer for a couple of days so there probably won't be updates until Wednesday night (Tas time).

There are south to s/w winds forecast for the next 2 days so can expect to average about 40km a day. For the next 3-4 days they will be passing busy towns each day on the n/w coast.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

End of day 14. November 20, 2004. (m.w. update) Today the strong Tasmanian spring winds continued. When Justine first asked me which direction they should paddle I said that the key factor is that it is generally better to be paddling from north to south down the exposed west coast of Tasmania - where there are less frequent landing points and big surf.

The down-side is that it can be very hard going up the east coast and across the north coast. This is what the girls are struggling against at the moment BUT they are doing amazingly well. In about another 5 days they will reach the n/w tip of Tasmania and the point where you get butterflies in your stomach again and feel apprehensive about the mystery ahead.

Back to the current situation. After leaving Bridport and the hospitality of Jeff Jennings and his Victorian paddling-guest, Rex Brown, they headed n/w towards the Sandy Point area where two points stick out into Bass Strait with large sand dunes on them. It is a beautiful area on a fine day but when you are trying to paddle around them into headwinds it can be a very painful process.

After paddling 40km over a 10 hour day they finally stopped near Stony Head - which is an Army range. This is an area where there are live artillary shells lying around and it is a bit dangerous to wander around trying to get a better mobile phone signal.

Friday, November 19, 2004

End of day 13 and would you believe it's a Friday - does that count as Friday 13th? We should have known when we left a nice warm house and our hats nearly blew off that it wasn't an ideal day for paddling. We are still in Bridport after a long paddle nowhere. We ended up 0.5km behind where we started yesterday after paddling 6.5km in 3 hours. Confused? OK. I'll try to explain.

No change from the usual and it was windy this morning. We had a slight lie in until 6.30am, packed up our kayaks and got driven back to Bridport pier by Jeff and Rex. The whitecaps were already dancing on the ocean but we were determined to give everything we've got to get around Tasmania before Christmas so we launched full of optimism. We turned the corner from the shelter of the pier and were straight away battling into stinging sea spray, and crashing down over choppy waves. progress was slow but we were making ground until the wind increased another notch. We'd been going 2 hours and still not reached the end of a 3km bay and the promise of some shelter under the trees. We had to admit that we weren't moving forwards and that the land to our left was no place to stop and camp. 300 metres of tidal sand flats and a shallow river with zero shelter was not appealing. We landed briefly to make a plan. We talked, felt very depressed and decided the best option was to turn around and head back to Bridport. it would only take us half an hour to get back to that position on a calm day and we can rest in comfort in Bridport for the rest of the day (thanks again Jeff and Rex).

On the positive side, it was a hell of a surf back in a force 7. Gemma's grin was the widest so far. WE all love surfing but even so I'd rather be 50km down the coastline - especially as penguins come ashore there. We took our kayaks to Bridpor caravan park so we don't need to drive them down to the sea tomorrow. unfortunately that is 0.5km further away from where we started so we ended up worse off than we were at the begining of the day! So it's strictly up early and on the water at daybreak tomorrow to try to beat these consistent, persistent, bloody winds. WE are getting worryingly behind schedule. Nothing that a few days of good weather couldn't fix but the forecast is for more westerlies for the next 2 days.

This afternoon the closest we got to the ocean was watching Pirates of the Caribean. We also went to the local coffee shop for lunch and continue to eat lots.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Hello, it's Justine here. First thanks very much to Matt for continuing to do a great job of our updates every day, and for texting us a weather forecast every night - even if it's usually bad news! You're probably thinking that we are too lazy to get up to listen to the early morning forecast on the radio but amazingly we're usually on the water before it is broadcast! Tonight we are enjoying luxury upon luxury including extended email access so I'm doing the update myself. We punished ourselves with another 4am alarm this morning. Trys was a star and offered to make breakfast then wake Gemma and I once she'd done it. Unfortunately both our stoves decided that it was far too dark and cold to work so we had garlic chappatis with chocolate spread for breakfast, washed down with cold tang - actually it made a good change from porridge. We were joined yesterday by local paddler Jeff Jennings and his friend from Melbourne Rex and they were sporting enough to get up early with us to paddle 35km to Bridport where Jeff lives. We were on the water by 6am (even Fiona might be impressed) and happily it wasn't very windy. As we rounded the point and headed West a slight tail wind kicked in and we surfed a few little waves for the first time in days - it made a great change from pounding into them. Rex and Jeff were in a double and took great glee in putting their sails up and effortlessly gliding past us as our arms whirled around. We don't mind though, we like edging and paddling - honestly! The tail wind continued the whole way to Bridport and joy of joys, the sun came out. We took our cags off for the first time and had fun surfing some waves on a turcoise sparkling sea, cruising along besides an endless white sandy beach. We arrived at Bridport at 11.30am and got a lift back to Jeff's house with our kayaks. The rest of the day has been spent spoiling ourselves,eating, sorting kit out, eating and more eating. We've had our first showers for 10 days - god that felt good, we've been shopping and restocked our pantry, had fish and chips, then had a pub meal and a few snacks. Gemma's size 8 (UK) trousers are already far too loose on her despite constant eating so she needs it!! Gemma has also done a great job of fixing the kayak that I'm using (at least it LOOKS like she's done a great job, I'll tell you tomorrow!) She's done all sorts of fancy things with fibreglass, gelcoat and foam and it looks as good as new. We worked out that my seat had broken on one side so it was pressing on the bottom of the kayak. Big quartz crystals from the grantie rocks around here got under the seat and gradually worked a few holes into the bottom of the kayak (no comments about my bottom please!). Jeff and Rex have been really helpful today, driving us to the supermarket, the fish and chip shop and pub, letting us wash our clothes and take over their lawn with all our stuff. Their friend Dave brought us some home brew whisky which also went down particularly well!

Tomorrow we are having a lie in until 6.30am and hope to be on the water by 8.30am. The forecast is for strong westerlies again so no offence to the forecasters but I hope you're wrong.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

End of day 11, November 17, 2004. (m.w update) This morning they woke up at 4am in another attempt to get up and make some fast, early progress before the wind picked up strongly during the day. Sadly when they poked their heads outside the tent at 4am, the wind had spoiled their plans by getting up earlier than them. So they did what any dedicated adventurer would do - they went back to bed until 7am. At this far more civilised hour the wind wasn't any calmer but you can only pound away into strong headwinds for so long during the day anyway - so why not do it during daylight.

They left Little Musselroe Bay and encountered some good waves & tidal flows as they rounded Cape Portland. There were some big waves, one of which broke on top of Gemma and found it's way down her cag soaking her - she just wanted to turn around and surf in them!! From here they paddled around the shore past the small holiday settlement of Tomahawk (small caravan park, shop & a few houses). They continued hugging the coast, along past the beautiful white beaches and clear water before landing at Waterhouse Point. Trys saw a dolphin. This is a National Parks - Reserve area that is surrounded by farmland. The girls found it amusing that this area of Tasmania had lots of place names taken directly from the UK. For example the region is Dorset municipality and lots of the towns are borrowed. I tried to convince them that we thought them up first - but I don't think they believed me. If you check the map website listed below you will be able to identify the UK place names in N/E Tasmania.

Besides the first few days they have been quite unlucky to get a lot of n/w & westerly winds. Hopefully they will get a few breaks from the westerlies, to speed along the north coast and then get more n/w winds to fly down the west coast. I guess that when they reach the top of the west coast and at Strahan (half-way down the west coast) they will need to assess the time they have available to estimate how long the remainder could take them.

Tomorrow they should reach the town of Bridport after battling the continuing westerly winds. This is the home town of local paddler Jeff Jennings ( who may be able to give Justine's camera gear some maintenance after being exposed to the harsh elements for the last 2 weeks. (Jeff was also an audio visual teacher at the local high school before he recently retired).

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

End of day 10, November 16, 2004. (mw update) Today they got up very early to try and beat the strong winds that have been building up during the afternoons. They left cod bay and had paddled 25km before 9am but then the wind picked up again. They battled for another 5km and made it to Little Musselroe Bay. This is the popular finish point for paddlers who paddle across Bass Strait from the Australian mainland to Tasmania. There would be roughly 15-20 paddlers who complete this trip each summer.

Little Musselroe Bay is a nature reserve area because it is a bird breeding area. There is a big variety of sea birds around with lots of Pelicans that swim around in the tidal lagoon that rises and falls each day behind the beach.

They are getting close to Cape Portland (strong tidal area) but they should be able to get past easily tomorrow morning as the tide flows from east to west around the Cape. They will then be heading across the north coast. The first 'side' of Tasmania will be completed.

Monday, November 15, 2004

End of day 9, November 15, 2004. (m.w. update) Today must have been very hard and frustrating. There were gale force west to n/w winds present. They have paddled from 5km south of Eddystone Point to 10km north of the point. They have stopped at Cod Bay. This is in a remote area of the Mt William National Park. There are no roads to Cod Bay. The beaches have beautiful white sand and the water is a clear blue/green colour. It can be an amazing place on a fine, calm day but on a windy, rough day it can be a nightmare.

Large, orange/pink granite rocks stick up out of the water like statues at each point (about every 5km) and big waves break on the sand bars around them. These points become even more complicated due to the tidal currents that affect the water in the n/e corner of Tasmania.

The biggest problem occurs when the tide is rising. At this time it flows along the coast from s/e to n/w - which means the tide flows against the wind. This causes the waves to stand up steeply. Progress is very hard.

Tomorrow they plan to get up at 4am to start paddling by 5am - to make more progress before the wind gets stronger during the day. They still have 53km to go to get past Cape Portland. After this the tidal flows become weaker and they turn west along the top of Tasmania.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

End of day 8 - 14 November 2004; They left the southern side of St Helens Pt at 7.40am. There was a light westerly wind present and the weather was fine. After crossing the entrance to St Helens (biggest town in N/E Tasmania - but a 20km side trip) the next major landmark ahead was Eddystone Point - with a large sandstone lighthouse visible from 30km away.

As they paddled north towards Eddystone Point the light westerly breeze turned into a strong n/w wind that made progress very slow. The strong offshore wind meant that it was easiest to stay close to the shore while heading north up the crescent-shaped bay. This added a few kilometres but had the added bonus of seeing more of the coastline as it changed from a holiday village to farmland then to a national park area with large granite rocks and white, sandy beaches. (I have photos of this area on my photos page with photo caption - bushwalkers resort -

By late afternoon - after 35km of paddling into n/w headwinds, they landed on a beach about 5km south of Eddystone Point. near the exclusive 'Bay of Fires' resort. Have a look at their website in the 'trip details' tab to see the area that they stopped. The kind staff at the resort donated a couple of bottles of wine to help them recover after a hard day.

The weather forecast for the next few days is for fine weather but for strong n/w winds - which is exactly the direction that they will be heading after rounding Eddystone Point.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

End of day 7 - 13 November 2004. (by m.w) Today they left from Picaninny Point at 8am and cruised up the coast - averaging about 6km/h in very light, variable breezes. As they reached the small town of Scamander (that Justine can't help calling Salamander) they headed into the beach near the river mouth to get a drink from the shop nearby. Trys and Gemma landed in the small surf with ease but Justine decided to do a 'practice roll' as she approached the beach in the shore break. I'm sure she meant to do it.

After relaxing for an hour they continued towards St Helens Point - with a light tail wind for a while. They landed on the southern side of St Helens Point at 5.30pm. Total for the day approx 55km. After setting up camp Justine charged batteries and did some work on her video cameras, Gemma went to work to fix a leaking cockpit and Trys cooked dinner.

This was another successful day as they are steadily catching up distance after the missed day, 2 days ago.

Friday, November 12, 2004

End of day 6 - 12 November 2004. (by m.w) Today Gemma, Trys & Justine (I thought I should stop naming Gemma last because she is has been leaving Justine & Trys in her wake)... anyway, today they had and early start and left Sleepy Bay at Freycinet Peninsula - after a day off due to very strong head winds. They had calm conditions and a warm, mostly fine day. They reached the fishing town of Bicheno at 2pm and stopped for lunch. They continued north in the afternoon to for another 27km to stop on the southern side of Picaninny Point. Their days paddle was about 55km. They will be very pleased with this after missing a day yesterday.

The wind forecast for the next 3 days is favourable with westerly winds (not helping - but at least it won't be slowing them down. This wind will also flatten out the ocean)

Tomorrow there could be showers but Sunday & Monday should be fine weather. Today I received Justine's new camera mounting pole (thank you Tony Smith - Extreme Vision Systems) and will be delivering it to 'the team' tomorrow morning.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

End of Day 5, 11 November 2004 - (m.w update) today Justine, Trys & Gemma sat out a bad weather day while they were at Freycinet Peninsula. There is still a strong n/e wind present. They spent the time exploring on land. They visited the lighthouse at Cape Tourville and the town of Coles Bay - where they were able to recharge some batteries and top up their fresh water supply.

The next target up the coast is the fishing town of Bicheno. This is a solid days paddling away but the wind will possibly turn to a westerly wind for the day to give them a short break from the headwinds. They plan to leave early in the morning of 12 November to give themselves every opportunity to reach Bicheno.

Justine said that Gemma was paddling strongly and coping well with the challenge. Trys has been keen to see as much as possible and is getting used to paddling a kayak with a different hull shape. Justine has been keen to do some longer distances to achieve the goal of completing the circumnavigaiton & getting back home for Christmas. They are all still in good spirits.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

End of day 4, Wednesday 10th November 2004, (m.w update)

They all left Schouten Island. There was a strong head-wind but they managed to paddle the 23km to a cove near Wineglass Bay for lunch. During the afternoon they left to try and make it to the southern end of Friendly Beaches but the strength of the headwind increased further so they decided to stop at Sleepy Bay - in a narrow, sandy cove. This was a very hard day which was indicated by an average speed of below 4km/h during the day. They had this cove to themselves and set up the tent on the coarse, granite sand.

Justine indicated that they may stay at Sleepy Bay tomorrow due to the continued strengthening of the n/e headwinds. These are forecast to continue until Thursday evening (11 Nov) when it will turn to a westerly wind for a day at the most before turning around to the n/w. They will have some time to explore on land while the head-winds are so strong.

So far the east coast has been harder than they expected due to the persistent northerly winds. Anywhere around Tasmania can get very strong winds but the hardest part is the west coast due to the lack of sheltered landing points. The east coast has more safe landing points but in this n/e weather the surf can really increase on most east coast beaches.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

End of day 3, 8pm 9th November 2004 (m.w update)

Today they reached Schouten Island after successfully crossing the 30km open water crossing from Maria Island. They had glassy, calm water while paddling for the first 15km of the crossing.

Halfway between the two islands is a very small rocky island (Ile de Phoques) that pokes up out of the ocean. This is a seal colony and they paused here for lunch. A n/e sea breeze picked up during the lunch-break which slowed their progress as they approached Schouten Island. They were lucky enough to see dolphins and some Gannets (large white sea bird with yellow head) that were diving for fish. They landed around on the northern side of Schouten Island where there is a very basic hut for visitors to use. The total distance for the day was approximately 42km.

N/E head-winds are forecast for tomorrow so the progress should slow a bit - but they may reach the beautiful Wineglass Bay on Freycinet Peninsula. The weather could be fine so they may enjoy lying on the beach when they arrive.

Monday, November 08, 2004

End of day 2; 7pm November 8th 2004 (update by matthew watton)

Message from Justine - Today they left Lagoon Bay on Tasman Peninsula and headed north up the East Coast of Tasmania. They had a force 3 tail-winds so they decided to raft up together and used a tarp to sail with for a while.

They landed at Darlington on Maria Island this afternoon. This is a former convict settlement (between 1820 & 1850) and is now a National Park. Maria Island is 5km off the coast of Tasmania at its closest point and is 20km long and up to 10km wide with 2 mountains on the island. The largest is Mt Maria at 710m high which is on the n/e corner of the island with almost vertical cliffs from the peak down into the sea. The only permanent residents on the island are the animals. There are no cars on the island except for the National Park maintenance vehicles.

They were pleased to see their first kangaroos on the trip this afternoon. Todays leg was approximately 35-40km.

Tomorrow they will probably be aiming to cross a 30km open stretch of water to reach Schouten Island which is at the southern end of Freycinet Peninsula. They may have one more day of tailwinds before the wind turns to a n/e head wind for a few days.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

End of day 1 - 9.15pm November 7th 2004 - (update by Matthew Watton-Tasmania)

I just received an sms from Justine that they were safely on shore. They arrived at Lagoon Bay just before dark. They encountered 4 metre swells during the 23km first leg as they paddled along side the big sea cliffs (200-300m high). They were all tired by the end of the first leg but were just cooking their dinner and really looking forward to it.

For anyone who doesn't have a Tasmania map to look at to follow the trip they can find a map to look at at a Tasmanian Government land information web site-
then select - MAP VIEWERS, then ENHANCED MAP DISPLAY, then MAP SEARCH (in small writing down near the bottom of the page). You can then zoom in to a 1:25000 scale map and see maps of the areas mentioned.

(update by Matthew Watton-Tasmania) After a long day of organising and packing on Sunday 7/11/04, Justine, Trys and Gemma headed to the new start location of Pirates Bay on Tasmania's Tasman Peninsula - to take advantage of the forecast southerly wind for the next two days.

We all arrived at Pirates Bay - close to the historic convict settlement of Port Arthur - at approximately 2pm and the tricky task of fitting all the gear into the kayaks commenced. This included 2 weeks worth of food and a lot of water.

Just before setting of for the great adventure, local fishermen took some group photos to record the historic event and looked on in admiration at the courage that they were showing.

It was a great relief for everyone when we carried the boats down to the water's edge (while Justine filmed the occasion) at 4.50pm on Sunday 7/11/04 (sunset is approx. 8.30pm). Gemma paddled away from the shore first trying to avoid being interviewed by Justine.

Shortly after they all grouped up together as they paddled out of the sheltered bay, past the end of the jetty and out into the open water. There was a 1-2 foot southerly swell present and a light to moderate s/w breeze (tail-wind).

I watched them until it was hard to see them clearly as they continued to paddle strongly to the north - up the east coast of Tasmania.

They were heading for Lagoon Bay - 23km to the north - at the northern-eastern corner of Tasman Peninsula. This would be enough considering the late start and the long flight.

I really hope they succeed and have a great time. They certainly were well prepared.

Saturday, November 06, 2004

We are finally in Tasmania, shopped, semi-packed and absolutely knackered! We landed in Hobart at 9.30 this morning and were met by Matt Watton, a local guy who has paddled around Tasmania twice solo. Matt has been really helpful in giving us advice before we came out here and today he kindly drove us around the shops to buy food, fuel and a few last minute bits and pieces. We spent the afternoon putting the food into ziplock bags, waterproofing our tent, putting the 3-piece kayak together, tying on hatch covers and talking to Matt about where to get water, food, showers and beatings in the surf – the last one of those to be avoided we hope! We found our other 2 NDK boats which Matt had picked up for us - thanks to Mark at Kayanu for sending them down to Tassie – they are in great shape (far better than their paddlers some might say).

We hope to start paddling tomorrow around 2pm – we only have 41 days to travel 1,500km so we’re keen to get started asap. Originally we had planned to start from near Hobart but that would involve paddling south into predicted force 4 or 5 winds so we’ll probably start on the East coast instead. That way the winds can help to push us along to the north. At least that’s the plan!

It’s not as hot and sunny here as we were hoping, in fact the weather was decidedly British today with rain and wind adding excitement to our packing. No, the shorts and little vests aren’t going to come out just yet but we’re hopeful.

It’s now 9pm and I need to go to bed before the matchsticks holding my eyes open give in.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

We leave tomorrow from Heathrow and are completely ready to go - well, sort of. We arrive in Hobart at 9.30am on 6th November. Matt Watton from Hobart, who has circumnavigated Tasmania twice solo, is kindly meeting us at the airport and helping us buy food, fuel and last minute bits and pieces. We hope to start the 1,500km expedition on 7th or 8th because we don't have much spare time to get around. Right, I should be packing.......!

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

The expedition is set to fly from Heathrow on the 4th of November to Hobart, Tasmania.

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